Student-run a cappella groups headed to Sing Strong competition

Members of the R.A.M.ifications a cappella group prepare for the Sing Strong competition which will be held in Reston, Va. on Feb. 21-23. Photo by Annie Agee.

Sarah King
Staff Writer

The R.A.M.ificiations and Notochords, two of VCU’s a cappella groups, will compete at the Sing Strong competition in Reston, Va. Feb. 21-23.

Sing Strong is an annual professional and collegiate a cappella competition that raises money for charity. This will be the R.A.M.ifications’ fourth year competing at Sing Strong against nine other groups. Anneliese Grant, psychology major and director of the group, said the R.A.M.ifications are looking to get to the very top.

“We’re really hoping we win,” Grant said. “We’ve been preparing since the beginning of the semester specifically for Sing Strong, and we started adding choreography on Sunday.”

Grant said the group has been working hard while preparing for the competition.

“We’re definitely dedicating a lot of time, and the tickets for all of us to go is over $1,000,” Grant said. “It’s like a workshop acapella weekend gala extravaganza situation.”

The group hosted the Richmond Rhythm competition earlier this year to help raise money for the Sing Strong application fees and tickets. Grant said the group made about $4,000 from holding the competition and was able to get new team T-shirts for the first time in two years. She also said that this is the first year the group has started doing all of the musical arrangements themselves, instead of hiring someone to do so.

“We started arranging all the songs within the group so that saved money. There are about six members who can arrange in the group, and usually we paid for arrangements, but when I became director I was like, ‘Why aren’t we arranging this?’” Grant said.

The R.A.M.ifications formed in 2009. Auditions are typically held each semester, although they are contingent upon if group members leave or graduate. Currently, there are 12 members and the group rehearses on Tuesdays and Sundays for two hours as well as an one-hour sectional each week. Rachel Hindman, a junior theatre performance major, said while performing with group was demanding, she was ready for the challenge.

“It’s time consuming, and I’m a very busy person but it’s something I care about, especially with my major,” Hindman said. “It’s my first competition with them, so I’m really excited to see what the whole fuss is about.”

The group dynamic is important to the success of the team members as a whole.

“Now especially because it’s our fourth year at Sing Strong we really just want to win this time so we’re putting in the focus to make sure we do all those things we said we would do before, and all the experience we have now,” said Austin Tate, a senior in religious studies who has been with the R.A.M.ifications for five semesters.

Tate said it is hard collaborating because the group is so democratic. Everyone always has say and influence, which can drag out decision-making for a long time.

The goofy nature of the group is something Grant, Tate and Hindman all agree contributes to the close-knit friendships the team members foster.

“I think we’re an outlet for each others’ strangeness. Even if we have semblances of normalcy, we’re all really strange,” Grant said.

Hindman said the group has grown close while preparing for the competition.

“We’re like family because we get mean and snappy with each other but we still love each other,” Hindman said. “We aren’t afraid of each other. We’re a bunch of weirdos.”

The R.A.M.ifications plan to attend another competition in March, as well as put on a glow-in-the-dark concert with the Notochords to raise money for Relay for Life.

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